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Vampires in St. Helens

'Twilight' the biggest movie ever filmed in Columbia County
by: Cecelia Haack, Twilight movies stricks the set on a sunny Friday afternoon after a week of filming in the rain.

Vampires glided into St. Helens last week and set up camp surrounding the United Methodist Church on Columbia Boulevard. Is this a conspiracy to destroy the church? Is it a demonic invasion of our quiet city?

No. It's the movie 'Twilight,' starring Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewert as Bella.

Pattinson is best known for his role as the handsome young wizard Cedric Diggory in 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' and 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.' His character Cedric meets a tragic end in 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.'

Stewert starred in 'The Panic Room' and 'Into the Wild.'

'Twilight' is characterized as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story, a tale of young forbidden love. Edward's a vampire. Bella is human. And that's a big problem even though he's from a family of good vampires who don't drink human blood. That's all fine and dandy until bad vampires show up and Edward feels the pull of his true identity as a vampire. Will he become a threat to Bella's life?

There were plenty of curious onlookers from St. Helens, Seattle, San Diego and Atlanta, Ga., all wanting a glimpse of their favorite stars.

Haley Dent and her mom, Bobbie, flew in from Atlanta just to see the filming of 'Twilight.'

'I'm so amazed by it,' Haley Dent said. ''Twilight' is one of the best books I've read. It's going to be a great movie. I don't think I can wait 'til December for the movie.'

Her mom was a little more subdued. 'I read the book and the characters seem very real.'

Karen, who didn't want to give out her last name, drove over from Beaverton for two days. 'I've loved hanging out,' she said. Although she admitted that she got cold and wet standing around just waiting to see her favorite stars drive by. 'I'm cold, but it's worth it,' she said and snuggled deeper into her rain coat.

Tomoko Lindsey and Yuzawa McGhee are seniors in high school and they drove down from Seattle.

'Oh my, gosh,' said McGhee. 'I'm loving it. We love Robert. We loved him in Harry Potter. It was so sad when he died.'

'This is so exciting,' said Lindsey. 'It's a nice way to spend spring break.'

Five high school-aged girls standing on the corner of Columbia and Eighth Street are talking about the movie.

'Edward is everything,' Lindsey said.

'He's the perfect vampire,' Karen said.

'There are so many twists and turns. It's a great fantasy,' said McGhee.

The girls rush over to the Forks police car, on loan to the set from Forks, Wash., and pose for photos. They each take turns snapping pictures.

Jane Allen strolls down the hill from the set. She lives next door to it. With a broad smile and a twinkle in her eye, she said the film was nothing but madness.

Four-year-old Kysa Lynn Hutton walks down the street with her grandmother. 'She wants to be a movie star,' Grandma said. 'So I though I'd bring her by and let get a little look at Hollywood.'

'Want to be a movie star,' Kysa said. She waves at every passing car.

A gusty wind blows and rain starts to fall. 'Twilight' groupies run over to the carwash. They huddle in one of the washing bays, eyes riveted on the street just waiting to see Edward or Bella.

This is the largest movie ever made in St. Helens. More than 15 semi-trailers of equipment, costumes, dressing rooms, rows of portable potties and a power-generating plant filled an empty lot on Columbia Boulevard and spilled out onto the street. A private security force dressed in dark clothes patrolled Eighth Street keeping curious people away from the set.

Will Dreher 'Will Power,' the power man for the production, has a rain/sun shelter set up. He lounges out of the rain.

Dreher runs a diesel power plant that generates enough power to supply 1,600 homes or 10 huge set lights. All this on only 38 gallons of diesel fuel a day.

'I love this job,' Dreher said. 'I've been in every state and in a lot of cities.'

Dreher started working at Universal Studios right out of high school. He worked days and went to school at night, earning a degree in electrical engineering for Pierce College.

The sun came out on Friday. Nikki Bartnick sat at the back of the 60-foot costume trailer enjoying the sun.

According to Bartnick, one of the costumers for the production, there are 21 big characters and 41 named characters that all require multiple costume changes. Bella has 26 costume changes alone.

Bartnick lives in Portland and has worked on seven films in the last two years. When she's not working on a movie she's working with local theater companies.

She started shopping for costumes for 'Twilight' two weeks before shooting started.